The Full 90

Draft Kit, Part 1: Analyzing Sporting KC's history, patterns in the MLS SuperDraft

The entry draft has to be one of the biggest crap shoots in all of professional sports.

Say you’re a general manager/technical director/coach/whatever. Every year, based on your previous year’s performance, you have a chance to make a (hopefully) educated guess on how a collegiate player is going to pan out as a professional. In most cases, the success of this young man/woman will impact, directly or indirectly, the future of your current position in some way.

The pressure, especially at the top end, is intense. The "what ifs" alone could keep an average person up at night.

What if your first round pick blows out his knee, like Danny Manning? What if he becomes completely unhinged, like Ryan Leaf? What if everyone thinks he’s a can’t miss prospect only it turns out he’s really Samuel L. Jackson’s character from “Unbreakable” and is in reality 55 years old, like Greg Oden? What if you just plain whiff, like the Chiefs with Todd Blackledge?

What if you pass on one of the greatest players ever, like Portland did taking Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan?

What if your first pick overall contracts mononucleosis in his first season, breaks a bone in his foot, injures his wrist after changing positions in his third season and only turns in a stellar year in his fourth professional year, like what happened with Chance Myers?*

*Some general managers might not have had the luxury of waiting for a guy like Myers to develop.

I think the only thing more difficult than orchestrating a good draft is to trying to conduct a quality pre-draft column. So, away we go...

Peter Vermes' draft history

Peter Vermes took over as the team’s technical director after the 2006 season and, with the input of head coach Curt Onalfo, his first SuperDraft was in ‘07. What follows are the five drafts Vermes has orchestrated. (Overall pick listed first. Players in

italics

are currently on KC’s roster.)

2007

• #3: Michael Harrington, D (North Carolina)

• #29: Edson Elcock, F (Old Dominon)



• #42: Kurt Morsink, M (James Madison)

Other notable picks: Maurice Edu (#1), Bakary Soumare (#2), Robbie Findley (#16), Dane Richards (#19), Omar Cummings (#31), Tally Hall (#44)

2008

• #1: Chance Myers, D (UCLA)

• #11: Roger Espinoza, M (Ohio State)

• #23: Yomby William, D (Old Dominon)



• #25: Jonathan Leathers, D (Furman)



• #39: Matt Marquess, D (Santa Clara)



• #53: Rauwshan McKenzie, D (Michigan State)

Notables: Brek Shea (#2), Sean Franklin (#4),

Luke Sassano (#32)

, Geoff Cameron (#42), Steven Lenhart (#48)

2009

• #8: Matt Besler, D (Notre Dame)

• #22: Doug DeMartin, F (Michigan State)



• #23: Graham Zusi, M-F (Maryland)

• #42: Neal Kitson, GK (St. John's)



• #50: Akeem Priestley, F (Connecticut)

Notables: Steve Zakuani (#1), Omar Gonzalez (#3), Chris Pontius (#7), Stefan Frei (#13), George John (#14), Baggio Husidic (#20)

2010

• #4: Teal Bunbury, F (Akron)

• #20: Korede Aiyegbusi, D (NC State)

• #36: Nick Cardenas, D (San Diego State)



• #41: Mauro Fuzetti, M (Michigan)



• #52: Ofori Sarkodie, D (Indiana)

Notables: Danny Mwanga (#1), Tony Tchani (#2), Zach Loyd (#5), Collen Warner (#15), Tim Ream (#18),

Seth Sinovic (#25)

, Sean Johnson (#51)

2011

• #10: CJ Sapong, F (James Madison)

• #32: JT Murray, D (Louisville)



• #46: Konrad Warzycha, M (Ohio State)

Notables: Darlington Nagbe (#2), Perry Kitchen (#3), AJ Soares (#6), Jalil Anibaba (#9), Michael Farfan (#23)

Analyzing Sporting Kansas City’s draft patterns the last five years

I’m not going to pretend to know exactly what Peter Vermes feels his needs are in this draft. (For the record, I think KC could use depth pretty much everywhere -- especially out wide in defense and attack.)*

*If you think I’m crazy for thinking KC needs fullback depth, read on. Also, I think that Michael Harrington gets "Jewsbury’d" at some point this off-season, creating a hole for a reserve fullback.

Here are the patterns I’ve found.

Vermes likes drafting defenders.

Over the last five years, KC have drafted 11 defenders -- 12 if you count Espinoza’s year as a leftback.

More specifically, Vermes really likes drafting fullbacks.

Eight of those 11 (or nine of the 12 counting Espinoza) have or can play fullback. This includes Besler’s year in that role during his rookie season. Fullbacks are very important in a 4-3-3 formation. A good attacking fullback is what gives you the numerical advantage on the opposing defense (often making it 5/ 6 on 4/ 5). It requires an insane amount of fitness, speed and fiesty-ness. All things that Vermes absolutely craves.

Vermes likes flexible players.

Harrington, Myers, Espinoza, Leathers, Besler, Zusi and Aiyegbusi have all played multiple positions in a Kansas City kit. Sapong and Bunbury have also technically played different spots across the forward line as well. There isn’t a lot of room in Vermes’ system for mono-dimensional players.

Kansas City have definitely done well in the first round.

The worst first-round draft pick of the Vermes era has been Chance Myers (1st overall in 2008). Of course, Myers just finished a head-turning season as one of the league’s best attacking fullbacks. Coincidentally, it was his first healthy season in the league.

The last two years, Vermes has unearthed the top two attacking players in the draft (Bunbury and Sapong) and much of the team’s spine (Sapong/Bunbury, Zusi, Espinoa, Besler) have come from the draft.

Of course, it’s hard to fail when you’re drafting in the Top 10 though. The #16 pick will be the highest that KC has picked under Vermes.

For the sake of knowledge, here are the last five #16 picks: Robbie Findley (Los Angeles, ‘07), Eric Brunner (New York, ‘08), Evan Brown (Seattle, ‘09), Michael Stephens (Los Angeles, ‘10) and Paolo Cardozo (Los Angeles, ‘11). It wasn’t until 2010 that the #16 pick was in the first round.

KC is not afraid of small-school players.

Elcock and William (Old Dominion), Morsink and Sapong (James Madison), and Leathers (Furman). That’s a pretty impressive number of Colonial Athletic Association players.

It’s all about the Southeast and Midwest.

Seventeen of KC’s last 22 draft picks (77%!) played collegiate ball in the Southeast (specifically North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and Kentucky) or the Midwest (exclusively Indiana, Michigan and Ohio). Only three players in the last five years (Myers, Marquess and Cardenas) played college soccer west of the Mississippi.

The Southern bias makes sense, as Sporting assistant John Pascarella (the team’s lead assistant for college scouting) has a tap on talent there. (He was the guy who was on Sapong last year.) As for the Midwest bias, I imagine it’s because the team are Big 10 fans or because Robb Heineman is a Notre Dame guy.

First rounders stick around, after that... not so much.

Only three second- or third-round picks are still on Sporting’s roster (Zusi, Aiyegbusi and Warzycha) versus six first rounders. Ten of Kansas City’s post-first round picks have played a combined total of zero games in Major League Soccer.

There are a lot of reasons for this, the most important being that there are no guarantees after the first round. The talent pool in America starts to drop off at about 30 collegiate players. Teams are inclined to take a shot on athletic players in the later rounds and hope that they develop into solid pros.


Coming in Part 2: Now that you know Vermes' draft history and tendencies, it's time to learn all you need to know before the draft, as well as 14 players that The Full 90 has its eye on.

It’s gonna be a good time. In the immortal words of Magnitude, "Pop pop."

This year, there will be animated .gifs from "Community" all up in this blog. You can’t stop it, you can only enjoy it or ignore it.
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